Improvements to MyHeritage DNA

improvements at myheritage DNAYou’ve taken your DNA test for genealogy and anxiously waited for your results. When they arrive, you dive into the ethnicity pie chart. Then matches start rolling in and it can become a little overwhelming to make sense of it all and the benefit it can provide to your genealogy.

Thankfully the DNA testing companies are not only focused on advances in testing, but also in creating tools that make it easier for you to interpret and use your results.

MyHeritage DNA continues to release improvements to their DNA product that are meant to both enhance our experience with their website and make it easier to do our genetic genealogy work. You’ll also find that an improved presentation of your genetic information that makes it easier to share with your relatives.

The MyHeritage DNA Overview Tab

Just recently MyHeritage DNA announced the addition of new filters for their match page and a bit of a redesign. The small redesign includes moving the ethnicity estimate into a tab right next to the DNA matches tab, as well as adding an Overview tab.

For any relatives who you have convinced to test, but who only show a passing interest in the actual genetic genealogy research, this Overview tab is a great way to show them their results without overwhelming them. There is a simple rundown of the ethnicity results, and then matches are broken up by relationship level and location.

MyHeritage DNA Overview tab

The MyHeritage DNA Location Feature

It is this location feature that will most interest the casual investigator, as well as the serious researcher. This filter lets you see the current location (note: NOT the birth location, though according to the MyHeritage blog post they plan to add birth location in a future update) of your DNA matches. Now, of course, this isn’t an active GPS that is spying on your match, but this tool relies on the location that your match has listed as their location in their MyHeritage account.

MyHeritage DNA Location

First, it is interesting just to scroll through all of the listed countries and see the variety of locations where your DNA is currently residing. Just think about that for a second: If you are DNA matching with someone in Germany, that means that you are sharing some exact pieces of DNA with someone in Germany and a little bit of you is actually there. This can make for a fascinating exercise when you compare this list of match locations to the locations listed in your ethnicity results. Remember that your ethnicity results can represent your ancestral locations recently, or a very long time ago. So if you see locations on your match list that also appear in your ethnicity results, this might be a good indication that the overlapping location might actually belong in your genealogy. Or the absence of overlap might help you weed out those ethnicities that were thousands of years ago. For example, if you see that your ethnicity results list you as 2% Greek, but you don’t have any DNA matches in Greece, this could mean that your connection to this location is before genealogical time. Of course, it could also mean that the right people from Greece haven’t tested yet, so don’t get too caught up in these deductions.

“If you are DNA matching with someone in Germany,
that means that you are sharing some exact pieces of DNA with someone in Germany
and a little bit of you, is actually there.”

MyHeritage DNA Ethnicities

The last section in the Overview, and the last filter for your match list, shows you how many of your matches are reporting at least 10% of various ethnicities. This might be helpful if you are working your Irish lines, as you can click on Irish, Scottish, and Welsh and see all of your DNA matches who report at least 10% in the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh category.

Combining MyHeritage DNA Filters

Another powerful way to use the filters at MyHeritage is to combine them. On the main match page, you can click on two different filters to further refine your results. So perhaps if you are looking for your Irish ancestor, you might click on the Irish location filter, and then also on the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh ethnicity filter. This will give you all your matches who currently live in Ireland, and who score at least 10% in the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh category.

Of course, the matches that show up after all the filtering aren’t necessarily worth your time or attention. Begin by taking a quick look at how much shared DNA you have. You will want to be sure that you share at least 20 cM before you go spending too much time scouring their pedigree charts for evidence of a shared ancestor.

Likely these filters will continue to improve over time. One thing I would like to see is the ability to use the relationship filter to isolate third cousins, instead of always lumping them with the distant cousins. Most of us don’t have very mysteries in the Extended Family (1st cousins once removed – 2nd cousins once removed) category, so I personally don’t find this filter to be very useful. I would like to see them allow us to filter our best third and fourth cousins out from the rest of our distant matches. Hopefully, MyHeritage can make some refinements in those categories, and thereby make their powerful idea of a two-pronged filter even more effective.

Stay tuned to the Genealogy Gems blog where you will hear updates about MyHeritage DNA (and other DNA testing companies) as they are announced. If you want help in getting more from your DNA test results and using the powerful tools at MyHeritage, my new quick reference guide MyHeritage DNA is available alone or bundled with other DNA resources at the Genealogy Gems store here.  Premium eLearning Members can watch the Premium Video Get the Most our of MyHeritage DNA (and download the exclusive handout!) in the Premium Video section here at Genealogy Gems (subscription and sign in required).

What’s your experience using these tools at MyHeritage DNA? Please join the conversation and leave a comment below.

About the Author: Diahan Southard has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She’s the author of a full series of DNA guides for genealogists.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Findmypast and Living DNA to provide genetic genealogy testing

Here’s exciting genetic genealogy news that you’ll want to know about.

Findmypast and Living DNA have announced a new partnership. The two leading British companies are creating a new DNA experience focused on uncovering British & Irish roots. 

This new service will be launched in the Fall of 2018. You can purchase a Living DNA kit right now to get your detailed ethnicity results, interactive map of your heritage throughout history, and family line ancestry (including mother line, and father line for males). As their database grows, your results will automatically be updated to reflect even more accurate results. According to Findmypast, when the Findmypast integration is officially launched later this year, all existing Living DNA test takers will be given the option to opt-in to receive DNA matching at no extra cost. Stay tuned to Genealogy Gems for more official announcements and updates!

From the press release issued by Findmypast:

Thursday July 19th: Leading British and Irish family history website, Findmypast, has today announced a new partnership with the providers of the world’s most advanced DNA test, Living DNA.

Together, the two British companies are creating a new DNA experience that is designed to help customers explore their British and Irish roots. This new experience will combine cutting-edge science with traditional family history research methods, allowing families to discover more about their past and present.

Living DNA’s tests provide a unique breakdown of ethnic identities associated with 21 regions across Britain and Ireland by analyzing unique combinations of linked DNA. This proprietary method delivers a level of detail that is currently unmatched by any other test available on the market.

By combining technology from the leading British DNA company with deep expertise and Findmypast’s vast collection of more 9 billion historical records and newspaper articles, family historian’s will be able to make new discoveries about their British & Irish genetic history.

New, co-branded kits will be launched when the integrated Findmypast and Living DNA service is introduced later in the year.

“Our partnership with Findmypast continues Living DNA’s mission to make DNA testing simple. We are passionate at not only providing cutting edge ways of looking at your DNA but to do so with strict privacy measures by never selling your data. This partnership allows the most precise DNA test on the market to work together with Findmypast’s family history records in a way not done before” says Living DNA Co-Founder, David Nicholson.

Tamsin Todd, CEO of Findmypast, said: “As the world leader for British and Irish records, we work hard every day to help our customers feel the thrill of making discoveries about their families. I’m delighted that we are partnering with a British company, Living DNA, who are pioneers in DNA technology, and look forward to combining our expertise in DNA technology and historical records to help people around the world connect with their British and Irish roots.”

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke

Lisa is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show and app. She is the author of the books The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Mobile Genealogy, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and the Google Earth for Genealogy video series, an international keynote speaker, and producer of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast.

DNA and Privacy: No Man is a Genetic Island

The recent identification of the Golden State Killer through a DNA database for genealogy is just one way your DNA may be used in unexpected ways. Lisa Louise Cooke shares 5 key principles to keep in mind when considering your online DNA presence.

Golden State killer case and others prompts important question

Recently, Paula in Canada emailed me about the Golden State Killer case, which I talked about in a special episode of the Genealogy Gems Podcast earlier this month. For those who haven’t heard, a serial criminal from decades ago, known popularly as the Golden State Killer, was recently identified in part after investigators submitted DNA evidence left at the scene to a genetic genealogy database. Paula asked how that case—and specifically the investigators’ use of a genealogy DNA database for a non-genealogy purpose—affects the genealogy community.

In the face of all the enthusiasm over DNA testing, the downsides of DNA testing for genealogy isn’t a popular topic. However, the lid is off of pandoras box  when it comes to DNA and there’s no putting it back on. Following the success of the Golden State Killer case, DNA evidence from over 100 crime scenes has recently been uploaded to GEDmatch (a website that provides free DNA and genealogical analysis tools for amateur and professional researchers and genealogists.), under the guidance of a new company (Parabon NanoLabs) that helps criminal investigators use genetic genealogy methods to identify genetic samples. Since DNA is here to stay, let’s talk about the varieties of ways that genealogical DNA testing results are being used may affect the genealogy community and the future of genetic genealogy.

DNA privacy for genealogists

In Genealogy Gems podcast episode #217 and here in this companion article, I share my own personal opinions. I invite you to listen to that episode and do your own homework before making your own decisions. Here, I summarize 5 principles to consider when it comes to sharing your DNA online:

1. Your data = dollars.

If you’re a Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning member and you’ve watched the Premium video Take Control of Your Family Tree, then you know your DNA data is already being shared within and beyond the genetic genealogy world. AncestryDNA and 23andMe have both discovered a lucrative market for the DNA data that their customers have paid them to process: the pharmaceutical industry. Read the Wired.com article on one partnership Ancestry has with the Google-owned biotech company called Calico. I’m not saying that this is bad or good. But it is happening. In the end we are each responsible for doing our own homework and making an informed and conscious decision about whether and how to share our DNA.

2. Look in the mirror: How are YOU using DNA databases?

Thousands of genealogists are already using genetic genealogy databases for purposes beyond privately building their family trees. Often, they want to connect with relatives they don’t know or with whom they aren’t in touch, and DNA becomes the “cousin bait.” For example:

  • Adopted children and birth parents trying to find each other
  • Locating estranged family members
  • Orphans trying to find long lost siblings and relatives

Individuals and agencies other than genealogists also use DNA databases to identify unknown human remains, such as John or Jane Doe cases and prisoners of war. All of these uses of DNA may be well within the parameters of how a genealogist would expect to see their samples used. But all of these uses can lead to tremendous consequences in the lives of those whose DNA is involved, not all of those consequences intended or positive.

3. Hang on to your restaurant napkin!

On a daily basis, in public places, we discard items that have our DNA on them. Many folks are concerned that the police may not be the only ones interested in picking them up. That’s very possible. In fact, waiters and waitresses pick up some of the best DNA samples on a daily basis: anything with saliva on it.

Why would anyone want your DNA? Well, we’ve all seen cases of accident victims being under surveillance to determine if they really are injured. DNA could reveal health issues of those seeking large insurance policies. Of course, it takes a bit of doing because the genealogy testing companies want you to submit the sample on the swab of their kit. In the podcast episode, I shared with you from my personal experience that it’s possible to work around that requirement.

We’re in the early wild west days of DNA. Who in the future might be incentivised to obtain your DNA?

4. We’re not the only ones interested in our DNA.

Those who may potentially be interested in your DNA go beyond even genealogists, crime fighters, and those who identify bodies. The list includes insurance companies, employers, governments, educators, and many more. A news article at news.com.au states that “In Australia, life insurers are allowed to ask if an applicant is considering having genetic testing, and can then use the results to determine their coverage — a decision not everybody thinks is fair.” It goes on to say that “in China, by comparison, authorities have reportedly collected DNA samples from millions of residents for the purpose of surveillance.”

5. No one is a genetic island.

Be aware that when you test, you are also making a decision on behalf of your parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, and future descendants. Your DNA (and accompanying tree data) could be used to identify them in the future in ways that help or harm them. Regardless of good intentions or stated ethics codes in the genealogy community, it isn’t possible to write and get the express permission of everyone who could be affected by you having your DNA tested. The water isn’t always crystal clear when it comes to DNA testing.

Resources

If you’ve already made the decision and have tested your DNA for genealogy, or you plan to, here are resources to help you navigate the process with greater awareness and success:

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke

Lisa is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show and app. She is the author of the books The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Mobile Genealogy, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and the Google Earth for Genealogy video series, an international keynote speaker, and producer of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast.

Episode 217 – The Golden State Killer and Your Genealogy and DNA

The Genealogy Gems Podcast
Episode #217
with Lisa Louise Cooke

In this special episode, host and producer Lisa Louise Cooke takes a look at the Golden State killer, one of the most notorious crime sprees in recent memory. She’ll talk about the role that DNA testing played in an ultimate arrest, and the impact that these events are having on genealogists and the use of DNA in genealogy.

The Golden State Killer

Golden State Killer: It’s Not Overdocuseries. (As an Amazon Associate, Genealogy Gems earns from qualifying purchases)
“The Golden State Killer,” 48 Hours episode on CBSNews.com (44-minute episode)

Between 1974 and 1986, activities attributed to the Golden State Killer include at least 12 murders, more than 50 rapes, and over 100 burglaries in California from 1974 through 1986.
The criminal’s methods led some investigators to believe that these differently-labeled criminals were very likely one in the same.
In 2001, DNA definitively linked several rapes in Contra Costa County believed to have been part of the East Area Rapist series, a series of murders in Southern California.
In 2011, DNA evidence proved that the Domingo?Sanchez murders were committed by the same man, known as the Golden State Killer.

BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users

If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, don’t forget to check out your bonus content for this episode! The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users

MyHeritage.com is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homelandClick here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.

StoryWorth makes it easy and fun for Mom to share stories with loved ones every week. At the end of the year, she’ll get them all bound in a beautiful hardcover book. Strengthen your bond as you get to know her in a whole new way! Go to http://www.storyworth.com/lisa for $20 off when you subscribe. Give a gift for Mother’s Day that is actually a gift for you, too!

Help solve DNA mysteries with these resources:

Caution: In this episode, Lisa shares her personal opinions on the use of technology for crime fighting and the implications for DNA testing for genealogy. She encourages everyone to do their own homework and make informed decisions in line with their own values, opinions and objectives.

Reality check: “The only way to ensure privacy is to never put anything of any kind online. Just like the only way to ensure you will never be in a car accident is to never?under any circumstances?get in a car.”

Read more about DNA testing company partnerships:
Another personal genetics company is sharing client data,” Wired.com article by Katie M. Palmer, published 21 July 2015, on Ancestry.com’s partnership with Google-owned Calico biotech firm
23andMe teams with Big Pharma to find treatments hidden in our DNA,” Wired.com article by Davey Alba, published 12 January 2015, on 23andMe’s partnership with Pfizer

Several ways we already use DNA matches:

  • Genealogists use to build family trees
  • Adoptees use to identify birth parents (or other biological relatives)
  • Orphans trying to find long lost siblings and relatives
  • Anyone looking for estranged family members
  • Researchers identifying unidentified human remains, including POW/MIAs

Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com.

Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at https://www.backblaze.com/Lisa.

More information on DNA testing

How to download, transfer and upload your DNA with various testing companies by Diahan Southard
How DIY genetic testing kits can be used against you,” News.com.au article by Gavin Fernando, published 3 May, 2018.

“When you test, you are also making a decision on behalf of your parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, and future descendants. Regardless of good intentions or stated ethics codes in the genealogy community, it isn’t possible to write and get the express permission of everyone who could be affected by you having your DNA tested.” ?Lisa Louise Cooke

Genealogy Gems can help you whether you test or not!

Keep listening to the Genealogy Gems Podcast for genealogy news, tips, inspiration and strategies (DNA is one of many tools talked about!)

Read free online articles at GenealogyGems.com. Click here to read dozens of articles on DNA.

Click here to view our complete line of DNA quick reference guides

Become a Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning Member, to get access to all the Premium video classes and the entire Premium Podcast: new monthly episodes plus the full archive of more than 150 previous ones.

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer
Sunny Morton, Editor
Diahan Southard, DNA Content Contributor
Hannah Fullerton, Audio Editor
Lacey Cooke, Service Manager

Disclosure: This document contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting this free podcast and blog!

Check out this new episode!

Get a Second Opinion on Your DNA Test

A second opinion on your DNA test can help your genetic genealogy research in several ways. Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard proposes several scenarios that can help you look at your DNA test results in a new way. (Retesting may not even be necessary!)

Second Opinions on a DNA Test

“Get a second opinion.” That’s the advice we hear about our healthcare and the tactic my kids use when one parent says, “No.” But it should also be a strategy employed in our genetic genealogy pursuits.

Second opinions come in multiple varieties. You can move your DNA test results between companies. For example, while you can’t transfer into 23andMe or AncestryDNA, you can transfer your autosomal DNA results out of all companies and into Family Tree DNAMyHeritage, and now Living DNA. (Click here for step-by-step instructions.) This transfer gives you a second opinion on your ethnicity results. We have talked about how those numbers can differ between companies and your “real” values may be somewhere in between.

However, you may also want to get a second opinion for your match page. Because of different analysis methods at the various testing companies, the same match might be reported to share a different amount of DNA. Those differences should be slight, and shouldn’t influence your relationship. Remember that the amount of DNA you share is measured in centimorgans (cMs), and generally speaking, the more cMs you share, the closer your relationship. (Click here to read more about centimorgans.)

That total amount of shared DNA can help us with another kind of second opinion. Because DNA inheritance is a random event, the amount of DNA two cousins receive from their shared 2X great grandparents can be very different. For example, according to data collected form the Shared cM Project (SCP) individuals who are documented third cousins vary widely in the amount of DNA they share. They may share as much as 253 cM but as little as 6 cM!

A Second Opinion Case Study

Let’s look at an example to see how a second opinion might be helpful in solving a genealogical mystery. In the image we see:

  • you
  • your sister
  • your matches Isaac and Allen

Your match Allen believes that his ancestor Mark is actually the eldest child of Jacob and Jillian. If this is the case, Allen would be your third cousin.

However, when you look at the total amount of shared DNA, you and Allen share only 48 cMs, which is below the 74 cM average for third cousins and fits better in the range of fourth cousins. Your sister is sharing slightly more, at 54 cM. So along with Allen, you begin forming a hypothesis that his ancestor Mark is actually a nephew to Jacob and Jillian, making your common ancestor either Jacob or Jillian’s parents.

However, you then get a new match in Isaac, who is a known third cousin, also a descendant of Jacob and Jillian, and you are sharing 86 cM. You then ask Isaac to tell you how many cMs he is sharing with Allen and he reports a whopping 92 cM! If we find the average amount of shared cMs between you, your sister, and Isaac and Allen, we get 65 cMs, which is much closer to the 74 cMs we would expect if you were truly 3rd cousins. In this case we could say that the genetics supports a connection between these individuals at Jacob and Jillian.

While you could still be 4th cousins instead of 3rd, having a second opinion in your sister, and then a third opinion in your known cousin can be very helpful in determining your actual relationship to Allen. Of course, the only way to know for sure if Mark is the child of Jacob and Jillian will be to find the genealogical paper trail. But in the meantime, you can continue to look for more descendants of this couple who have been DNA tested, and get a more complete picture of your genetic relationship.

More Help with Your DNA Results

MyHeritage DNA matching update and a new chromosome browser

Why do DNA testing for family history if you already “know” your tree

Organizing Your DNA Matches Premium video (Exclusively for Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning members–membership now includes over 20 DNA videos from Diahan Southard! Click here to learn more)

About the Author: Diahan Southard has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She’s the author of a full series of DNA guides for genealogists.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Page 1 of 1212345...10...Last »

Pin It on Pinterest

MENU